Oculus App Lab will enable virtual reality developers ‘to build a business, create a community, test and experiment with new apps, or get feedback on new ideas’
➨ The new App Lab is a distinct entity from Oculus Store
➨ Developers can submit both free and paid apps to App Lab for sharing via a URL or Oculus Keys
➨ In partnership with Sidequest, Facebook will enable discovery of Oculus App Lab apps on its platform, further boosting developer access
Facebook’s much-anticipated opening up of the Oculus ecosystem to third-party developers has finally arrived.
The aim of App Lab, which was first announced last year, is “to build a business, create a community, test and experiment with new apps, or get feedback on new ideas”, according to an Oculus blog post.
The new offering is a distinct entity from Oculus Store, so that marketplace’s strict curation process remains and the majority of third-party apps will not feature.
Instead, developers can submit both free and paid apps to App Lab for sharing via a URL or Oculus Keys. Apps will be available in customers’ libraries as if purchased through Oculus Store.
A new search section will feature submitted apps, giving them a significant exposure boost, and they can benefit from the majority of standard platform features, including automatic update distribution, platform integration and software development kits, app analytics, and release channels.
Facebook has reduced the technical requirements and virtual reality checks to make submission as simple as possible for developers, and produced marketing materials to educate platform newcomers on how to best promote their work.
A dramatic increase in reach
In partnership with Sidequest, Facebook will enable discovery of Oculus App Lab apps on its platform, further boosting developer access.
All developers need to do is submit URLs to SideQuest and promote their apps directly to the platform’s user base.
Facebook believes this partnership will “dramatically increase the reach of SideQuest apps that use App Lab for distribution” because they will no longer require sideloading, developer mode, or a PC to install.
As a result of the App Lab launch, Facrbook has closed the Quest Publishing Access application process, deeming it no longer necessary.
Developer programmes such as Oculus Start and Launch Pad, and educational courses such as Unity/Oculus Design, Develop and Deploy, will continue providing scaled support, savings, and access.
For developers and independent software vendors working with Oculus for Business, Facebook plans to introduce a dedicated business channel, providing the ability to distribute across headsets to existing enterprise customers. There is no word yet on when that will launch.
Oculus becoming the must-use VR platform
The release of Oculus Quest 2 is fast propelling Facebook toward the mantle of the biggest provider of virtual reality for consumers.
Available for just $299 at launch, the headset is on track to become the first mainstream virtual reality device, building on the significant success of Quest 1 and Rift S, which generated more than $100 million on content revenue by May 2020.
Virtual reality developers, for consumer and enterprise, cannot ignore the potential of Oculus and its growing audience, making the launch of App Lab, along with the eventual expansion of Oculus for Business, critical developments.
What do you think of the launch of App Lab and the success Facebook and Oculus have enjoyed over the past few years?
Is App Lab an instant game changer, or do Facebook and Oculus have more work to do to attract developers and build the kind of software ecosystem that will make virtual reality truly mainstream?